By Peter Sloggatt
As the government shutdown enters its fourth week, private sector relief is finding its way to furloughed federal workers, inclunding local Coast Guardsmen stationed at Eaton’s Neck.
A drive hastily organized by Seymour’s Boatyard owner Dave Weber with help from Northport Fire Department brought in thousands in donated gas and grocery store cards along with monetary donations over the course of a weekend.
Weber said he initially tried to help out by offering part time employment at his boatyard to the Coast Guard members who have been working without pay since the shutdown began Dec. 22, 2018. Many face long commutes to the station where they work a four-day shift. Weber found federal rules prohibit Coasties from taking outside work at local marinas.
Weber said Eatons Neck Commanding Officer Anthony Martinez steered him to the non-profit Long Island Chief Petty Officers’ Association which can take monetary donations, and the Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Clubs, which turned over $2,200 worth of cards early this week, according to its executive officer Jackie Martin.
“My husband came up with the idea because he was in the navy and knew some of them must be living paycheck to paycheck,” said Martin.
To make it convenient for donors, Weber arranged for a box to be put at Northport Fire Department’s Main Street headquarters where people can drop donated cards or checks made out to the LI Chief Petty Officers Assocation.
“Here’s a group of men and women carrying out some of the biggest drug busts in the country,” Weber said of the Coasties. “And they’re working without getting paid.”